NASA Headquarters Guidance for the Creation of Quad Charts

Quad Charts are an important communications tool at NASA HQ for Monthly Science Reviews (MSR). These overview slides, representing important science results, are also used for presentations to other agencies and at scientific meetings. They also serve as a source for other internal and external NASA communications efforts.

Every month at NASA Headquarters, the Earth Science Director joins the directors of the Planetary, Astrophysics, and Heliophysics Science Divisions to review key scientific findings from NASA-sponsored research across the Science Mission Directorate.  These findings are presented in so-called “Quad Chart” slides. The slides presented are a subset of those submitted from the program areas within the Earth Science Division.  While there is usually not enough time to present all slides that are submitted, Senior Managers within the Earth Science Division do carefully review the content of all submitted slides as they are viewed as key opportunity to learn about the most important scientific results from research supported by the Earth Science Division.

The Carbon Cycle and Ecosystems Office is collecting Quad Charts synthesizing publications and making the charts available to NASA managers and the public. PIs can upload Quad chart slides when updating their publications using the publications upload tool (sign-in required) or you can contact support for help. After you have entered your publication you will see a link to add a Quad Chart. Our focus is solely on publications funded by NASA. Do NOT report publications that are not in some way a result of your NASA funding.

  Below are instructions on how to create Quad Charts for publications. Please note that all Quad Charts use the same PowerPoint slide layout, e.g., a NASA logo at the top, a double line separating the title from the content of the slide, and 14 point Arial font (minimum font size).  While larger font sizes can be used, their use will limit the amount of information that can be presented.

  NOTE 1: The MSR (Monthly Science Review) is a briefing given at NASA HQ to the Science Mission Directorate management. The Earth Science Division Director is the usual presenter with about 1 minute to present an individual slide.

  NOTE 2: Highly technical results (e.g., technology advancement, calibration/validation, or capability studies) and/or results relying on data that are 10+ years old (even if the paper is recent) are not well suited for the MSR audience; however, support staff are happy to receive those results to maintain a record of NASA-enabled research.

Research & Analysis Program’s (R&A) Dos and Don’ts for Monthly Status review Results Slide

Dos: The Making of a MSR Results Slide

  1. Tell a story by considering the following questions: What are we learning about the Earth? What didn’t we know before? What do we now know? What can we do with this knowledge? What are the potential societal impacts/benefits?
  2. Similarly, make sure the reader knows: What is important? What is the essence that should be drawn from the result? Focus on what has been accomplished and learned, not just what the investigators did.
  3. Make sure to communicate the 1 to 3 most significant elements about what you want the audience to know about the research and how the results contributed to society/Earth system science. This should be done in the Results and Significance Sections of the MSR slides
  4. Typically, each result should be summarized in 1 slide. However, if the story needs 2 slides to be told effectively or if you have an integrated story to tell encompassing a series of related publications, the standard one slide can be augmented with 1 or more slides. If you are integrating multiple publications, use a cover slide to summarize and connect the findings, plus additional slides to describe necessary supplementary information.
  5. Use the following headings: Background or Science Question; Analysis; Results; and Significance.
  6. Use at least 14 point Arial font. If possible, main text should be in this blue and figure text in black.
  7. Indicate what NASA resources (e.g., satellites, ground-based networks, datasets, models, etc.) were employed.
  8. Use 1 to 2 figures that most clearly (or simply) represent the results. All figures should have axes labelled, units of measurement, and color bars included.
  9. Make sure the title grabs the reader’s attention. The title does not have to be the full paper title. Include the full paper citation under the title heading, if space allows. Otherwise, include the information elsewhere in the slide or in the notes section.
  10. Include the title of the solicitation and/or the grant number in the notes section.

Don’ts: Common Pitfalls to Avoid

  1. Don’t refer to implications of the findings without indicating what the implications are.
  2. Don’t include small, unreadable figures that lack units, color bars, and/or description.
  3. Don’t include an image that lacks a description of what is being depicted.
  4. Don’t include data or imagery that represent only a part of the findings being summarized, particularly when the accompanying text is broad and inclusive. For example, if the findings indicate new information about observations on land and sea, don’t include a figure only showing land results. Instead, show figures demonstrating the land- and sea-related findings.
  5. Don’t use highly technical language/jargon that is not understood outside a specific science discipline – the audience is scientifically informed, but may not necessarily be an expert in your field of research.
  6. Don’t include too many words – the slide is not read verbatim, rather the important outcomes of the study are described during the presentation. Feel free to make liberal use of the notes section to capture additional information (e.g., details on how the research was conducted, define acronyms, etc.).

PPTX Template and Examples

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The PPTX Template and Examples is a PowerPoint Slide Deck that will help you prepare your Quad Chart slide. Please note that all slides use the same PowerPoint slide layout, e.g., a NASA logo at the top, a double line separating the title from the content of the slide, and 14 point Arial font (minimum font size).  While larger font sizes can be used, their use will limit the amount of information that can be presented on the single slide.

Example Template:  Slide 1 and 2 provides an overview of the contents of a typical Quad chart slide set, where Slide 1 contains the research summary and Slide 2 contains notes for the slide (e.g., the citation for the paper that is being summarized and the NASA contact information. Slides 3 to 6 present examples of recent Quads chart slides.